The marvelous vision of the peaceable Kingdom, in which all violence has been overcome and all men, women, and children live in loving unity with nature, calls for its realisation in our day-to-day lives. Instead of being an escapist dream, it challenges us to anticipate what it promises. Every time we forgive our neighbor, every time we make a child smile, every time we show compassion to a suffering person, every time we arrange a bouquet of flowers, offer care to tame or wild animals, prevent pollution, create beauty in our homes and gardens, and work for peace and justice among peoples and nations we are making the vision come true.
We must remind one another constantly of the vision. Whenever it comes alive in us we will find new energy to live it out, right where we are. Instead of making us escape real life, this beautiful vision gets us involved.
quotes of Martin Luther King
Here's an MLK quote from the 1963 Easter weekend letter from the Birmingham Jail.
"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states . . .
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly affect all indirectly."
Another MLK quote: "The greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."
found by Paula Winker.
RFK Assorted Speeches
Robert F. Kennedy: Georgia Law Day Address
Robert F. Kennedy: 1964 DNConvention Address
Robert F. Kennedy: Cape Town University Address
Robert F. Kennedy: On the Death of Martin Luther King
MLK Riverside Church Sermon: Beyond Vietnam. "A Time to Break Silence"
MLK: Speech at Temple Israel of Hollywood
MLK Excerpts from 22 Assorted Speeches and Sermons
Malcolm X: Ballot or Bullet?
Malcolm X: Message to the Grassroots
Malcolm X: 24 Assorted Speeches 1959-1965. Audio on some of these is better than others. All are audible.
from David C. Collesano, Pompano Beach, FL.
April 6, 2008, Op-Ed Contributor, The Last Wish of Martin Luther King , by TAYLOR BRANCH.
FORTY years ago on March 31, at the National Cathedral, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered what would be his last Sunday sermon, on his way back to Memphis. That same night in 1968, President Johnson shocked the world by announcing that he would not seek re-election.
I was a senior in college. My mother was visiting four nights later when all conversation suddenly hushed in a busy restaurant. A waiter whispered that Dr. King had been shot.
Civil rights, Vietnam, Dr. King, Memphis these are historic landmarks. Even so, this year is a watershed. Because Dr. King lived only 39 years, from now on, he will be gone longer than he lived among us. Two generations have come of age since Memphis.
This does not mean that our understanding is accurate or complete. A certain amount of gloss and mythology is inevitable for great figures, whether they be George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, Honest Abe splitting a rail or Dr. King preaching a dream of equal citizenship in 1963. Far beyond that, however, we have encased Dr. King and his era in pervasive myth, false to our heritage and dangerous to our future. We have distorted our entire political culture to avoid the lessons of Martin Luther King's era.
He warned us himself. When he came to the pulpit that Sunday 40 years ago, Dr. King adapted one of his standard sermons, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution." From the allegory of Rip Van Winkle, he told of a man who fell asleep before 1776 and awoke 20 years later in a world filled with strange customs and clothes, a whole new vocabulary, and a mystifying preoccupation with the commoner George Washington rather than King George III.
Dr. King pleaded for his audience not to sleep through the world's continuing cries for freedom. When the ancient Hebrews achieved miraculous liberation from Egypt, many yearned to go back. Pharaoh's familiar lash seemed better than the covenant delivered by Moses, and so the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness. It took 40 years to recover their bearings. Dr. King has been gone 40 years now, but we still sleep under Pharaoh. It is time to wake up.
Dr. King had been in Memphis marching in support of sanitation workers. Two of them, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, had been crushed in a mechanical malfunction; city rules forbade black employees to seek shelter from rain anywhere but in the back of their compressor trucks, with the garbage. But looting had broken out from Dr. King's march, for the first time.
When he showed up in Washington that Sunday morning, he was scarcely the toast of the United States. Headlines in Memphis called him, "Chicken la King," with accusations that he had run from his own fight. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat called Dr. King "one of the most menacing men in America today," and published a wild-eyed minstrel cartoon of him aiming a huge pistol from a cloud of gun smoke, with the caption, "I'm Not Firing It I'm Only Pulling the Trigger."
So Dr. King stood in the pulpit a marked man, scorned and rebuked, beset with inner conflicts. Yet as always, he lifted hope from the bottom of his soul. He urged the congregation to be alive and awake to great revolutions in progress. "I say to you that our goal is freedom," he cried, "and I believe we're going to get there because however much she strays from it the goal of America is freedom!"
We face daunting precedent in history. Our nation has slept for decades under the spell of myths grounded in race. I grew up being taught that the Civil War was about federalism, not slavery. My textbooks even used a religious term, the "redeemers," to describe politicians who restored white supremacy with Ku Klux Klan terrorism late in the 19th century. Modern Hollywood was founded on the emotional power of that myth as portrayed in "The Birth of a Nation." Progressive forces advocated racial hierarchy with a bogus science of eugenics.
More than once, the dominant culture has turned history upside down to make itself feel comfortable. And when a civil rights movement rose from the fringe of maids and sharecroppers, making it no longer respectable to defend racial segregation, wounded voices adapted again to curse government as the agent of general calamity. We have painted Dr. King's era as a time of aimless, unbridled license, with hippies running amok.
The watchword of political discourse has degenerated from "movement" to "spin." In Dr. King's era, the word "movement" grew from a personal inspiration into leaps of faith, then from shared discovery and sacrifice into upward struggle, spawning kindred movements until great hosts from Selma to the Berlin Wall literally could feel the movement of history.
Now we have "spin" instead, suggesting that there is no real direction at stake from political debate, nor any consequence except for the players in a game. Such language embraces cynicism by reducing politics to entertainment.
Democratic balance has slept for 40 years, and we face a world like Rip Van Winkle run backward. We wake up blinking at Tiger Woods, Condoleezza Rice and Barack Obama, while our government demands arbitrary rule by secrecy, conquest and dungeons. King George III seems reborn.
Please resist any partisan connotation. Our problem is far too big for that. Indeed, I think the most pressing challenge for admirers of Dr. King is to recognize our own complicity in the stifling myths about civil rights history. Battered, long-suffering allies of Dr. King discarded him as a tired moderate long before the reactionary campaign to make the word "liberal" a kiss of death for candidates across the country. Similarly, forces called radical and militant turned against liberal governments for taking so long to respond to racial injustice, then for the Vietnam War. Only a convergence of the political left and right could cause such lasting erosion for the promise of free government itself.
Many of Dr. King's closest comrades rejected his commitment to nonviolence. The civil rights movement created waves of history so long as it remained nonviolent, then stopped. Arguably, the most powerful tool for democratic reform was the first to become passé. It vanished among intellectuals, on campuses and in the streets. To this day, almost no one asks why.
We must reclaim the full range of blessings from his movement. For Dr. King, race was in most things, but defined nothing alone. His appeal was rooted in the larger context of nonviolence. His stated purpose was always to redeem the soul of America. He put one foot in the Constitution and the other in scripture. "We will win our freedom," he said many times, "because the heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands." To see Dr. King and his colleagues as anything less than modern founders of democracy even as racial healers and reconcilers is to diminish them under the spell of myth.
Dr. King said the movement would liberate not only segregated black people but also the white South. Surely this is true. You never heard of the Sun Belt when the South was segregated. The movement spread prosperity in a region previously unfit even for professional sports teams. My mayor in Atlanta during the civil rights era, Ivan Allen Jr., said that as soon as the civil rights bill was signed in 1964, we built a baseball stadium on land we didn't own, with money we didn't have, for a team we hadn't found, and quickly lured the Milwaukee Braves. Miami organized a football team called the Dolphins.
The movement also de-stigmatized white Southern politics, creating two-party competition. It opened doors for the disabled, and began to lift fear from homosexuals before the modern notion of "gay" was in use. Not for 2,000 years of rabbinic Judaism had there been much thought of female rabbis, but the first ordination took place soon after the movement shed its fresh light on the meaning of equal souls. Now we think nothing of female rabbis and cantors and, yes, female Episcopal priests and bishops, with their colleagues of every background. Parents now take for granted opportunities their children inherit from the Montgomery bus boycott.
It is both right and politic for all people, including millions who are benign or indifferent toward the civil rights movement, or churlish and resentful, to see that they, too, and their heirs, stand with us on the shoulders of Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Dr. King showed most profoundly that in an interdependent world, lasting power grows against the grain of violence, not with it. Both the cold war and South African apartheid ended to the strains of "We Shall Overcome," defying all preparations for Armageddon. The civil rights movement remains a model for new democracy, sadly neglected in its own birthplace. In Iraq today, we are stuck on the Vietnam model instead. There is no more salient or neglected field of study than the relationship between power and violence.
We recoil from nonviolence at our peril. Dr. King rightly saw it at the heart of democracy. Our nation is a great cathedral of votes votes not only for Congress and for president, but also votes on Supreme Court decisions and on countless juries. Votes govern the boards of great corporations and tiny charities alike. Visibly and invisibly, everything runs on votes. And every vote is nothing but a piece of nonviolence.
SO what should we do, now that 40 years have passed? How do we restore our political culture from spin to movement, from muddle to purpose? We must take leaps, ask questions, study nonviolence, reclaim our history.
What Dr. King prescribed in his last Sunday sermon begins with the story of Lazarus and Dives, from the 16th chapter of Luke. Told entirely from the mouth of Jesus, it is a story starring Abraham the patriarch of Judaism, set in the afterlife. There's nothing else like it in the Bible.
Dr. King loved this parable as the text for a fabled 1949 sermon by Vernon Johns, his predecessor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. Lazarus was a lame beggar who once pleaded unnoticed outside the sumptuous gates of a rich man called Dives. They both died, and Dives looked from torment to see Lazarus the beggar secure in the bosom of Abraham. The remainder of the parable is an argument between Abraham and Dives, calling back and forth from heaven to hell.
Dives first asked Abraham to "send Lazarus" with water to cool his burning lips. But Abraham said there was a "great chasm" fixed between them, which could never be crossed. In his sermon, Dr. Johns drew a connection between the chasm and segregation.
But according to Dr. Johns, Dives wasn't in hell because he was rich. He wasn't anywhere near as rich as Abraham, one of the wealthiest men in antiquity, who was there in heaven. Nor was Dives in hell because he had failed to send alms to Lazarus. He was there because he never recognized Lazarus as a fellow human being. Even faced with everlasting verdict, he spoke only with Abraham and looked past the beggar, treating him still as a servant in the third person "send Lazarus."
Dr. King's sermons drew more layers of meaning from this parable. He said we must accept the suffering rich man as no ordinary, nasty sinner. When refused water for himself, he worried immediately about his five brothers. Dives asked Abraham again to send Lazarus, this time as a messenger to warn the brothers about their sin. Tell them to be nice to beggars outside the wall. Do something, please, so they don't wind up here like me.
Dr. King said Dives was a liberal. Despite his own fate, he wanted to help others. Abraham rebuffed this request, too, telling Dives that his brothers already had ample warning in Torah law and the books of the Hebrew prophets. Still Dives persisted, saying no, Abraham, you don't understand if the brothers saw someone actually rise from the dead and warn them, then they would understand.
Jesus quotes Abraham saying no. If the brothers do not accept the core teaching of the Torah and the prophets, they won't believe even a messenger risen from the dead. Dr. King said this parable from Jesus burns up differences between Judaism and Christianity. The lesson beneath any theology is that we must act toward all creation in the spirit of equal souls and equal votes. The alternative is hell, which Dr. King sometimes defined as the pain we inflict on ourselves by refusing God's grace.
Dr. King then went back to Memphis to stand with the downtrodden workers, with the families of Echol Cole and Robert Walker. You may have seen the placards from the sanitation strike, which read "I Am a Man," meaning not a piece of garbage to be crushed and ignored. For Dr. King, to answer was a patriotic and prophetic calling. He challenges everyone to find a Lazarus somewhere, from our teeming prisons to the bleeding earth. That quest in common becomes the spark of social movements, and is therefore the engine of hope.
Taylor Branch is the author, most recently, of "At Canaan's Edge," the third volume in his history of the modern civil rights era. This article was adapted from a speech he gave on Monday at the National Cathedral.
David C. Collesano, Pompano Beach, FL.
Mainstream media are working overtime to hide the universality of his message from the day he uttered it at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967 exactly one year before his death until now.
January 22, 2008; Counterpunch; Will the Memorial Obscure King's Greatest Message? Stoning Martin Luther King, Jr.; by SAM HUSSEINI.
Yesterday, the Washington Post lead editorial prominently quotes King: "'When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,' Dr. King said. 'This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.'"
The people behind the King Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. are planning on using that exact same quote from his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech. If all goes as scheduled, come April, ground will be broken for a statue of King with the above inscription on it, frozen for the future.
The quote uses a financial analogy for justice; subpar for King in my view. Its substance will seem to many to be a validation of a corporate capitalist future for African Americans, quite acceptable to those atop the Washington Post as well as Verizon and other corporate backers of the MLK Memorial. And the quote is a plea for the United States to live up to its stated goals; it does not seek to radically alter the structure of the nation and of the world, as King sought to do. At minimum, other specific aspects of King must be given prominence.
Jared Ball has warned of the "assassination of the image and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr." Says Ball: "While his name is evoked each year, and at times of heightened political activity even more so, this reference comes specifically to recast a revolutionary into one comfortable with current and false notions of 'progress' or 'change.' Barak Obama borrows King's oratorical flare (attempts at least) with none of his politics; Hillary Clinton misuses his legacy to give undo credit to the executive branch for a movement's struggle for equality while simultaneously suggesting that King himself saw president Johnson's signing of Civil Rights legislation as completion of victory and liberation. He most certainly did not."
Moreover, King was a universal figure, not a nationalist one. His greatest influences were Jesus (a Palestinian Jew), Tolstoy (a pacifist Russian Christian novelist) and Gandhi (a leader of India from the Hindu tradition).
(Even some of the others honored prominently on the Mall -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, presidents all -- have their universal statements highlighted in monuments. Atop the Jefferson Memorial: Is etched: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man .")
King offered damning indictments not only of racism, but of capitalism, of militarism -- and of nationalism and imperialism; this is most clear in his speeches against the Vietnam War in the last year of his life:
King came out most publicly against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York, exactly one year before his assassination. In that speech, he shows a palpable shame at having been rather quiet on the issue. Major media outlets immediately attacked him. The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people." He was also criticized by groups like the NAACP.
While King in his own day was hurled derision for such stances, today, his statements are iced out of the record. We are offered a petrified King, not a flesh and blood man who cried upon reading the New York Times attack on him.
On April 30, 1967 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (a pulpit Obama just tried to fill), King replied to his critics:
"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. ... There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward [Selma, Ala. sheriff] Jim Clark!' but will curse and damn you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!' There is something wrong with that press! ...
"To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. ...
"I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. ... When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. ... True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation."
Many people clearly didn't want to hear it; King, even more emphatically in his "The Drum Major Instinct" address -- part of which was used in his own eulogy -- again at Ebenezer Baptist on February 4, 1968.
I would submit to you this morning that what is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy. And if something doesn't happen to stop this trend, I'm sorely afraid that we won't be here to talk about Jesus Christ and about God and about brotherhood too many more years. (Yeah) If somebody doesn't bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody's going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don't let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds. (Amen) They have twenty-megaton bombs in Russia right now that can destroy a city as big as New York in three seconds, with everybody wiped away, and every building. And we can do the same thing to Russia and China.
But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." "Our nation must rule the world." (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.
God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.
Perennial presidential adviser and pundit David Gergen, after Obama won the Iowa caucus, noted that his speech was very nationalistic. Said Obama: "In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents, to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come."
Is that really the message for our time? A retrenchment of nationalism -- and quite likely a facilitation of further neo-imperialism? As King was increasingly articulating, especially in the last year of his life, the message for our time is that that we are all one people -- not from the U.S., not from any other country. All humanity. Virtually no political figure in the U.S. today articulates anything approaching this (Kucinich perhaps does so occasionally.) But King did do so, and paid for it. Any monument to King that does not recognize that would be an insult to him and to the entire World.
Many of Sam Husseini's writings are at husseini.org.
They were on converging trajectories. For more quotes (on violence etc.) see: http://www.malcolm-x.org/quotes.htm
Dr. King on Malcolm X: "You know, right before he was killed he came down to Selma and said some pretty passionate things against me, and that surprised me because after all it was my territory there. But afterwards he took my wife aside, and said he thought he could help me more by attacking me than praising me. He thought it would make it easier for me in the long run."
Malcolm X On Martin Luther King, Jr...
"He got the peace prize, we got the problem.... If I'm following a general, and he's leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over."
"I'll say nothing against him. At one time the whites in the United States called him a racialist, and extremist, and a Communist. Then the Black Muslims came along and the whites thanked the Lord for Martin Luther King."
"Dr. King wants the same thing I want -- freedom!"
"I want Dr. King to know that I didn't come to Selma to make his job difficult. I really did come thinking I could make it easier. If the white people realize what the alternative is, perhaps they will be more willing to hear Dr. King."
"The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody's guess which of the "extremes" in approach to the black man's problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first -- "non-violent" Dr. King, or so-called "violent" me."
In the end, they both met "fatal catastrophes".
David C. Collesano, Pompano Beach, FL.
January 18, 2008, After Downing Street , What MLK Said About Change, by David Swanson .
These are some of the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:
"The nonviolent strategy has been to dramatize the evils of our society in such a way that pressure is brought to bear against those evils by the forces of good will in the community and change is produced. The student sit-ins of 1960 are a classic illustration of this method....
"So far we have had the Constitution backing most of the demands for change, and this has made our work easier, since we could be sure that the federal courts would usually back up our demonstrations legally. Now we are approaching areas where the voice of the Constitution is not clear. We have left the realm of constitutional rights and we are entering the area of human rights.
"The Constitution assured the right to vote, but there is no such assurance of the right to adequate housing, or the right to an adequate income....
"The past three years have demonstrated the power of a committed, morally sound minority to lead the nation.... Even the presence of a vital peace movement and the campus protest against the war in Vietnam can be traced back to the nonviolent action movement led by the Negro."
King was decidedly pro-change. But these are some more of his words:
"The white establishment is skilled in flattering and cultivating emerging leaders. It presses its own image on them and finally, from imitation of manners, dress, and style of living, a deeper strain of corruption develops. This kind of Negro leader acquires the white man's contempt for the ordinary Negro. He is often more at home with the middle-class white than he is among his own people. His language changes, his location changes, his income changes, and ultimately he changes from the representative of the Negro to the white man into the white man's representative to the Negro. The tragedy is that too often he does not recognize what has happened to him."
Yes, this is right-wing corporate-media color-blind hero, Martin Luther King Jr. speaking about the white man and the Negro people. He was speaking about what was, and what largely still is, not about what he dreamed might someday be.
He was for change, but not for electing just anyone who said the word, and not for letting pass the uncomfortable but necessary warning.
"A time comes," King said, "when silence is betrayal."
"As I have walked," King told the crowd assembled in Riverside Church a year before his assassination, "among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."
King could be imagined today asking a Senator who would claim to oppose the occupation of a distant land while funding that violence with enough wealth to remake the globe: "Why, Senator, will you not filibuster future bills to fund this occupation? Ordinary citizens are sacrificing far more than the embarrassment of attempting a legislative maneuver that might not succeed. Why will you not use the power you now possess for the good you claim to endorse, prior to asking us to bestow still greater powers on you?"
"There is nothing wrong with power," King actually said in his final address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "if power is used correctly. You see, what happened is that some of our philosophers got off base. And one of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love.
"It was this misinterpretation that caused Nietzsche, who was a philosopher of the will to power, to reject the Christian concept of love. It was this same misinterpretation which induced Christian theologians to reject the Nietzschean philosophy of the will to power in the name of the Christian idea of love. Now, we've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love."
The strongest politicians do not support the waging of war against weaker peoples. The strongest voices in the United States today oppose the occupation of Iraq, and do so out of love for the people of Iraq and the world, and do so with more than words.
David C. Collesano, Pompano Beach, FL.